The members of the European Parliament have voted on the proposed Euro 7 emission standards as foreseen. The original proposal had been watered down by fierce lobbying from all sides, and the final result was a compromise that left almost everybody unhappy.
The EU Parliament will now enter trilogue negotiations with the EU Council and Commission to decide the final law. During the gestation process of the Euro 7 standards, several aspects of the Commission’s proposal have been altered or weakened.
Examples are the NOx emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles and cars, the testing conditions for cars and trucks, and the schedule for introducing the Euro 7 standards.
According to AECC, an international non-profit scientific association of European companies operating worldwide in the research, development, testing, and manufacture of key technologies for emissions control, the European Parliament significantly weakens the Euro 7 proposal of the European Commission in parallel to delaying its implementation.
“This is in contrast with its own report on the Revision of the Air Quality Directive from 13 September 2023, where the European Parliament requests higher ambition than the proposal from the European Commission,” notes AECC.
“Consequently, Euro 7 would fall short as a supporting tool for better air quality. For example, only minor adjustments are made to test conditions. Especially for heavy-duty vehicles, the Euro 6 test procedures are nearly kept, not addressing significant shortcomings for cold-start and low-load operation in urban environments,” the association states.
Nevertheless, AECC encourages the co-legislators to continue working on the swift adoption of Euro 7 before the upcoming EU elections in June 2024. “This is necessary to implement the new Euro 7 legislation promptly. Implementing a robust Euro 7 is necessary, feasible, affordable and will make Europe more competitive,” concludes AECC.
‘Worse than useless’
The NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) is furious: “The EU Parliament voted for watered-down emissions standards that will be used to greenwash dirty cars.”
Anna Krajinska, vehicle emissions and air quality manager at T&E, said: “The Euro 7 passed today is worse than useless. Car companies will use it to greenwash cars that are hardly any cleaner than today. The last pollution standard that engines must meet is a dead letter. Lawmakers should have the decency to rename it Euro 6F or withdraw it.”
Realism must prevail
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) acknowledges that the European Parliament today voted for a more realistic approach to Euro 7, compared to what the European Commission put forward last year. However, they say, “Euro 7 still comes with a heavy price tag and at a critical juncture in the industry’s transformation”.
“The fact remains that Euro 7 represents a significant investment for vehicle manufacturers, on top of their huge decarbonization efforts,” stated ACEA Director General Sigrid de Vries.
“It also comes in an extraordinarily challenging geopolitical and economic context, marked by soaring energy prices, supply chain shortages, inflationary pressures, and lagging consumer demand. Europe needs a proportionate Euro 7 that balances environmental concerns and industrial competitiveness,” she added.
ACEA calls on policymakers to ensure that realism prevails during the trilogue negotiations and not to let a ‘disproportionate Euro 7’ derail progress already made by manufacturers.
This week, major European newspapers reported how the car industry mounted a lobbying campaign to weaken the original plans. The Guardian writes about a secret meeting between the EU Commssioner’s staff and BMW CEO Oliver Zipse, current president of ACEA.
Libération says that the final proposal largely adopted the emission limits recommended by the industry and entirely against the advice of the EU’s own consultants.
According to El Diario, the industry was also making promises about investments or threatening with the diversion of it. On the first day of Spain’s EU Council Presidency, Renault confirmed a huge investment in Spain, and a few months later, the Spanish presidency came with its softened Euro 7 proposal.
Politico reports about a member of the European Parliament submitting an amendment that was a word-for-word copy from the car industry’s head of public affairs demanding the dilution of testing rules.
Il Fatto finally compares this constant lobbying by the European car industry to what happened in 2015 when Volkswagen installed fraud software in its cars to influence testing and calls the current actions of the sector ‘dieselgate 2.0’.